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Divers with one of the Nanhai No. I’s artifacts.

More Artifacts from a Song Dynasty Chinese Shipwreck Revealed

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A Chinese cargo ship from the Song Dynasty that was salvaged from the depths of the South China Sea in 2007 has revealed more of its rich cargo to archaeologists.  Gold, silver, and copper artifacts are some of the diverse treasures that were found within the South China Sea vessel. The relics can be found at a museum that was built especially for the nautical wreckage.

According to the Yangjiang city website, the Nanhai No. 1 (meaning "South China Sea No. 1) “is the earliest, largest and best preserved merchant ship for ocean trade of the sunken ships discovered in the region around [the] China Sea, and also the only sunken ship which… witness[ed] [the] Maritime Silk Road in Ancient China.”

Liu Chengji, deputy head of the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, told the press that archaeologists have retrieved porcelain products, such as pots, bottles, bowls and plates produced by then famous kilns in places now known as Jiangxi, Fujian and Zhejiang. The fact that some of the artifacts also contain the names of shops and places, provides clues on some of the important economic players during the Song Dynasty as well.

A porcelain pot from the Nanhai No. I. The Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum (Nanhai No. 1 Museum), Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China.

A porcelain pot from the Nanhai No. I. The Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum (Nanhai No. 1 Museum), Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China. ( UNESCO)

Apart from these artifacts, hundreds of gold, silver, and copper relics and about 17,000 copper coins have also been removed from the wreck to date. "The cargo composition of the vessel is clearer and the diversity is rich," Liu said.

Furthermore, "Some personal belongings, such as bracelets, finger rings and necklaces, were also discovered. These items showed the vessel had a certain number of merchants and passengers aboard," said Sun Jian, technical director of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Protection Centre of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

‘Traveling on the River in Clearing Snow,’ by Guo Zhongshu (c. 910–977 AD).

‘Traveling on the River in Clearing Snow ,’ by Guo Zhongshu (c. 910–977 AD).  Depicts a pair of Chinese cargo ships (with stern-mounted rudders) accompanied by a smaller craft painted on silk and dated to the early Song Dynasty period (960–1279 AD). ( Public Domain )

As for the ship, it was found in a well-preserved state and about 22 meters (72.2 feet) long and nine meters (29.5 feet) wide. Sun Jian has described it as “a short and fat model that was widely used in ancient times, designed with high safety standards, a good ability to resist waves and a big freight load.”

The ship and many of the artifacts that were found within it, can be found in the Marine Silk Road Museum, on Hailing island of Yangjiang city, Guangdong. Visitors are encouraged to observe the ongoing excavations of the Nanhai no. 1 at the museum, though the archaeologists expect to be complete their task this year.

Time Gallery of Underwater Archaeology. The Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum (Nanhai No. 1 Museum), Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China.

Time Gallery of Underwater Archaeology. The Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum (Nanhai No. 1 Museum), Yangjiang, Guangdong Province, China. ( Yangjiang City )

Featured Image: Divers with one of the Nanhai No. I’s artifacts. Source: Big Blue Technical Diving News and Events

By: Alicia McDermott

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